Exam Jam, a UTM-wide event that started in 2013 and is currently coordinated through the Office of Student Transition (OST) and the Health and Counselling Centre, returns this semester on December 5th. The day-long series of activities and sessions take place at the end of each term, between the end of classes and the beginning of the exam period.
Exam Jam offers students intensive course-specific review sessions which are led by instructors and Facilitated Study Group leaders, along with exam preparation workshops and consultations with health and wellness activities.
The OST student success coordinator Carrianne Leung explained that Exam Jam first originated from the University of British Columbia-Okanagan. “[It was then] championed by Kelly Jay in 2011 at U of T [St. George] Arts and Science. The following year, Professor Ken Derry brought it to UTM and offered it to students in historical studies during the fall term.”
Health and wellness activities were integrated the following winter. Designed to help students de-stress while promoting healthy and productive study habits, wellness workshops include activities like chair yoga and mindfulness meditation. There are also study and writing workshops facilitated by the RGASC, along with a new initiative this year, the motivational study space offered by OST.
“The event takes a holistic approach and offers support to students academically while also addressing their health and social needs,” Leung stated.
Leung explained that for the first time this year, participation in Exam Jam can be recorded as a notation on your Co-Curricular Record. OST’s website states that in order to receive the CCR notation, “Students must attend a minimum of one (1) academic session [including sessions run by the RGASC], one (1) wellness station, and complete an on-site reflection exercise.”
“Exam Jam functions as a pre-exam hub to get some tips, meet new people, have some fun before exams begin. There are not many campus-wide opportunities, so it is also a chance to build community at UTM,” Leung said.
Some students described Exam Jam as a “much needed and much appreciated event.”
Sarah Sakrani, a third-year business student, said her main reason for attending Exam Jam review sessions is “to review all the material covered during the semester in one time frame. Professors also [provide] extra help and focus specifically on what will be coming in the exam.”
For the review sessions last April, the event saw around 2,700 students attend. Exam Jam continues to grow each year, making it one of the largest annual events at UTM, not only for the instructor-led reviews, but also for destressing by petting some therapy dogs.
Students agree that both the wellness activities and exam review sessions are worth attending. “The wellness activities provide a good break in between the studying and have helped me destress,” said Tehreem Tufail, a fourth-year architecture student at St. George. She participated in an activity called “letter to myself” in which students were given the opportunity to write a letter giving advice to their worried, stressed out, and pre-exam self.
Leung mentioned that faculty also participate willingly and are excited about engaging actively within the UTM community during this time. “We have strong support from faculty across all programs and disciplines. This year, we will have approximately 80 instructor-led sessions happening throughout the day. I have been told by some instructors that they will also be visiting the therapy dogs and having a turn at the blender bike in the atrium between their sessions. I believe that faculty find it meaningful to be part of the energy and community that Exam Jam brings.”
Key collaborators for the Exam Jam include RGASC, Student Life, Academic Dean’s Office, Office of the Registrar, Department of Historical Studies, the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre (Library), UTM Residence, Centre for Student Engagement, and several other community partners.